Short Story

Attitude Alignment Algorithm (or, Sour Neon Worms)

What’s worse than runner’s knee? Knunner’s ree. But that’s another story for another time.

Yesterday my wife and I were training for our half-marathon—one month away in Cleveland. It was a ten mile run. The weather was a surprising 80 degrees; other people were outside. I waved. Mile 2 my knee became stiff, and I ran through it. Mile 5 my knee seized and my body dug into the asphalt like Iron Man falling from the sky. “Ah poop,” I said.

Kneedy

The great thing about living in Rochester is that I’m constantly given opportunities to have a bad attitude a great attitude. It’s been a tough winter (as I’ve said and said and said) but we’re finally out of it! (Tomorrow a snow storm is expected). And though I’m limping like a sailor, I’m happy to say—

Okay.

I can’t do it.

Guys.

I’ve reached my max here.

This knee thing is the pits. I’m well aware that I signed up for 23 credits with a part-time job and, well, what should I have expected? But this marathon? It was going to be everything. It would represent my ascension into post-Spring semester heaven. I would be running. Those cheering on the sidelines would be yelling, “Kevin, you made the right choice moving to Rochester. Way to go!” Or, “Keep up the good work, Kevin! Never mind the opportunity costs associated with uprooting and college. You’re almost there!” And finally, as I’m given a small cup of water, with extra, because I deserve it: “You can do it! Your wife’s career is mildly suffering but it is worth it for you to study at a private school! Woo!” (more…)

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Saturday Skit: Roll With It

“Smell it,” he says.

“I don’t want to smell it.” Davey lifts up the plate and pushes it towards my face. I jerk my head back, saving my nose from shame.

“Piss, right?”

“It does not smell like piss.”

“My sushi is drenched in piss, here—“ he lifts the plate higher. “Brian, I’m telling you, my rainbow roll is absolutely radiating of piss.” We stare at each other, and Davey doesn’t budge: “Smell it!”

“Get your sushi out of my face.” One by one, surrounding tables pick up our conversation and begin eating their edamame like popcorn. One skinny Japanese waitress—the one who isn’t fooling anyone with that accent—she walks by and finds us arguing.

“Ever-ting arright?” She twirls her pointer in a curl. Her name tag says Sarah.

“Fine, thanks.”

“It’s not fine,” Davey fires. “Ma’m, my rainbow roll… it…”

“Uh-huuh”

“It smells like pee.” The quick sound of a half-popped edamame shell plopping into a bowl of soy sauce is heard. Even the fish have stopped swimming. (more…)

How to Stay Productive in 5 Easy–Hey! The Super Bowl!

Today’s post was almost about my busy schedule (school, work, exercise, faith, Dexter), how I can stay productive and accomplish it all, lessons learned, and so on. But then I read an article about the Seahawks. Next I read an article about the Broncos. After that came a blog post about Peyton Manning’s faith, one about Richard Sherman’s mouth, and then…

You get it. The Super Bowl is on its way. I’m not above it. The two final teams are my two favorite teams (NOTE: I was as loyal to Indianapolis as I will be to Denver). So this is all pretty fun.

Now ends my talk of the Super Bowl.

Whoa, man, is me!

My 22 credit course-load is proving difficult these days; I haven’t even attended every class yet! However, instead of traversing down a dark and dangerous road which ends with me mounting a soapbox, screaming about the cruelness of time, I thought I’d instead share some great things I’ve learned and experienced, so far, from this new semester.

(What is this blog post even about?–Jim Gaffigan audience voice) (more…)

Saturday Short: Training Day

The following is flash fiction. Check out my other Saturday Shorts here.

Training Day

Fresh air and midday sun (through glass) taunted lungs, and the mothers and fathers, settled and unsettled; the heavy eye balls; the sleepers in the stalls—all of us—sorted and slightly rocking. Our shoes and briefcases brimmed the aisles, and our mouths coughed. Blind but secure, the train rattled, and what could we do but wait. Care for a cup of tea? Anything. Just bring me anything.

Outside the corn was dead and dry. A man sat in the window seat and was careless to view any of it (us, sanctioned together by wretched fate), staring at his shoes, considering maybe, the asphalt that marked them. “You look familiar” I finally admitted as a gesture.

The musician began. He, like all else, assumed his story was worth telling, and he spoke, and I thought about the birds: free, hungry, singing, and why fly next to trains?

“—not as easy as you think, you know.” Around my age but much richer, he hated his life as much as I hated mine. I bought a few of his records, a decade ago, and once I shook his hand in a parking lot before a gig. He was an asshole.

“Why not quit?” I keep him busy, like a four-year old with a new toy. And I wonder off: free, hungry, singing.

“There’s no career fair for me. No running away. Like a monkey I’m expected…”

If listening is a skill, we must all get it wrong. The man spoke, and I couldn’t care, and when I spoke he didn’t care. Where you out of? he’d say, shortly shifting his attention a couple rows down to a partially unbuttoned blouse on an attendant who bent forward for a piece of trash. (more…)

Saturday Skit: Give ‘Em God

The following is a scene from a larger one-act play I’m writing called GIVE ‘EM GOD. It’s about my experiences leading worship and growing up inside the church (very much still a work in progress). I’m hoping to have it finished as a final project for my playwright course in a couple weeks.

GIVE ‘EM GOD: Scene 5

College Nights

(Spotlight over YOUNG TAD and YOUNG DEBORAH, sitting on the floor in the corner. They are outside. YOUNG TAD is smoking. The Moonglows’ “Ten Commandments of Love” plays quietly in the background, repeating if necessary.)

YOUNG DEBORAH: I guess… I never really thought about it.

YOUNG TAD: Yeah?

YOUNG DEBORAH: Yeah. You know. You grow up in the church and learn not to question things. Certain things.

YOUNG TAD: So you just—

YOUNG DEBORAH: Shut it out, really.

YOUNG TAD: And here you are in college, and your professors tell you differently.

YOUNG DEBORAH: I guess so.

YOUNG TAD: Before you didn’t think much about it.  Now you have to think about it. That right?

YOUNG DEBORAH: It scares me. What if they’re right and biology and evolution and big bang and… explains all this? It’s Santa Claus all over again. How fashionable… lying to children. Somedays I do feel I’ve lost my faith. But I look everywhere for it. The cupboards, the closet, under the bathroom mat. The toaster if I’m hungry. Lord. Somedays I don’t find it.  (more…)

Saturday Skit: Science

The following is a short skit I wrote for my playwright class. Enjoy!

SCIENCE

(Lights. A public bathroom. There are seven urinals against the wall. NARRATOR stands on the corner of the stage; he wears a suit. When men enter the restroom, their movements and talking freeze as the NARRATOR speaks.)

NARRATOR: The Three P’s of Pissing. There are three instincts every man of good character must possess inside an office washroom: Position, Poise, & Posture. Here, you will find seven urinals—ladies and gentlemen—and three washing stations. We are at Brodducks & Sons Insurance Agency, corner of Park & Granger. Ahh! Yes. Our first specimen joins us. Barry, 32, man of one wife and infant child.

(BARRY enters. He stops and surveys his urinal choices.)

Ahh. All to himself. What shall he ever choose?

(BARRY selects the first urinal in the row.)

NARRATOR: How expected. How common. That’s what we get with Barry, isn’t. Yes. That’s what we expect. Notice, if I may point out, ladies and gentlemen, Barry’s posture. He’s slumping, relaxing in his own world. No poise to speak of, no. Can you blame the man? No one else around. Go ahead, Barry. Take a load off. The first urinal in the row is always chosen by men outside the pack. Familiarity. What anthropologists call “comfortable.”

(OLD BILL BAILEY enters. He stops and surveys his urinal choices.)

NARRATOR: Here we go! Let’s see what Old Bill Bailey will choose. Ladies and Gentlemen. This is where the show begins. The second male in a washroom has the worst fate; his choice claims everything. The third and fourth male don’t matter; their urinal selections are consequential to space. But Old Bill Bailey, he can choose whatever he wants, but be careful! Ladies and Gentlemen. To choose the farthest urinal—on the other side of the room—most certainly, no man of good conscious could. And Old Bill Bailey is a man of good conscious. See, choosing the farthest urinal—on the other side of the room—suggests one of two things:  (more…)